Issue 19 — June 22, 2021

A

Come to Me

 

Come to me like fireflies in the dark

So I may catch you in a bottle

And look at you forever

With green light in my eyes.

Come to me like the wind on a calm day at sea

So I may steer this ship to the port

And never get on it again.

Come to me like fire trying to stay alive

On a piece of wood in the snow,

Like grass through a cracked wall,

Like an empty bottle of wine thought to be full,

Ignored by the waiter.

I just want to meet you again.

It’s like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle

With a leaf for a missing piece,

Like trying to create railway tracks

By piloting trains in the desert.

It just doesn’t work.

I kick the door and hurt my feet,

I jump into the water and drown.

I kiss in my dreams

And dance alone in a room,

Pretending like Tchaikovsky plays in the background.

Sometimes they knock and I don’t answer,

Sometimes they tell and I don’t open the door.

I must be sleeping.

I wait for you to kiss me,

Dance with me

Awaken me,

For I’m asleep.

 

Abel Johnson Thundil is a poet from India. He has a blog called Amaranthine, a blog of original poetry, where he spills his heart for his readers. His work has appeared in Terror House magazine, and he is the co-author of Luminescence, an upcoming anthology by Rosewood publications, India. He is currently busy trying to have a patreon audience.

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For Mariam

When this nation wrings pimples 
On our faces as a stress test of 
Survivability 

When this nation gifts us funny 
Noses as a flag of our ancestral
Bear fight for freedom

shrinks our cheeks to hollow
Bones with hunger. Birthmarks 
& stretches –  

emblems of struggles where 
freedom is doomed, chained 
& liberality is libel

Mariam is a moonbeam with 
A light brush painting happy 
Faces, cladding our scars & 
fears into what gods made us
to be before Nigeria happened 
to us.

Adesokan Babatunde Waliyullah (toonday) writes from Oyo State, Nigeria. He works with FirstBank. His works have appeared and are forthcoming in The Shallow Tales Review, Ethel-Zine and Wales Haiku, namely. He is on Twitter: @tunde_adesokan and Instagram as @toondayatkins.

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A Colourful Eye

Colour and colours are all around

our wide awake days.

Bringing fawn and fauna

into our everyday lives.

 

The colours of trees and plants

can be so bedazzling,

creating a kaleidoscope for

our eyes to behold.

 

Stood on a beach looking out to sea,

brings different hues to both

sea and sky.

Making it a haven for tranquil and peace.

 

Now colour in humans causes

people to see their own skin.

When we’re all humans where

colour shouldn’t be seen.

 

Alan Bedworth, 65, has been writing poetry and songs for two years. He started submitting poems for publication in February 2021, and has had poems published by The Open Door Magazine, The Trouvaille Review and Ambrose Literary Garland. His interests are also watching Rugby League, and being outdoors in the fresh air.

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You Made My Life a Living Hell

 

And I love you. Oh, oh, how I treasure our recreational

arguments, the yellow worm, a pet of our pettiness. Our

chemistry is our friction. Your benignly lacerating tone.

The octopus-like suction cups of your attention. How can I

live without you? How can I live without wishing every day

I’d never met you? How can I forget to forget to remember

that when you’re not here to work this s*** out of me it’s

just a drag.

A. Whittenberg is a Philadelphia native who has a global perspective. If she was not an author she would be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her other novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored and The Sane Asylum.

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Turn Instead of Twist

 

Rather than twisting

To avoid the hard place

And the rock,

Choose instead

To rock the world

Through the power of music,

And not just rock-and-roll,

And roll out the splendor

Of Bohemian Rhapsody

Because the pillars of

Beauty,

Freedom,

Love,

And Truth

Can inspire the youth

To endure and mature

Alex Andy Phuong (He/Him/His) earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University—Los Angeles. Emma Stone inspired Alex to write passionately after watching her Oscar-winning performance in La La Land. He now writes hoping to inspire the ones who dream.

 

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Leave, Learn, Live

Life is shattering, today saw those ones tomorrow not seen.
Each and every one feared the disease more than it caused.
Blunders cropped then, out of mistakes,
Came out to work and earn, keeping life at stake.
Result: thousands turned to millions in death rate!

No oxygen to breathe or  bed space to treat
Lay on floor and wrapped in clothes many lives ready to leave.
Rich and affluent ones started to flee,
Some came in the forefront to care,
Others refused to retreat!
Laymen had nothing left and they were least spared.
What an uncertainty spread wide!
People die and can’t even say goodbye.

Life is precious, every second be cherished right.
Forget the rivalry, grudge and pride,
Live it with morale, care and positively stride.
How important is each and every breath
Is realised when we collide to take one more bit of life.

Anila Arun Pillai lives a diasporic life. Since her roots call for the natural splendour of Kerala and she lives in the vibrant Gujarat, India. She is a Research Scholar with SVNIT and a faculty of Communicative English. A poet, writer and essayist; she has published her creative and scholastic works in National and International anthologies, journals and periodicals.

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Aftermath of a Riot

It was so quiet

I could almost hear

The thoughts of that man

By the road, over there.

Could hear the blood thrumming

In his veins, and an emptiness at his core

Like the deserted town square

Where pigeons fluttered in a rush of wings.

I heard a shout

And the sound of a shot

Which echoed down the barrel

Of the afternoon, tense and taut,

Gnarled roots of silence

Probed the dark earth of distrust

Upturning edifices of language

Onto the dust.

And peace lay like heaps of broken china

On the carriageway of time

Under the wheels of fate

Rolling over the same.

Somewhere far off bells tolled.

What a caterwauling…

It was the siren cars wailing

From the edges of history,

Keening the rite of riots.

Ajanta Paul is a poet, short story writer and critic who is currently Principal and Professor of English at Women’s Christian College, Kolkata. A Pushcart nominee, her poems and short stories have been featured in national and international literary journals such as Spadina Literary Review, The Pangolin Review, The Piker Press, Harbinger Asylum, Innerchild Press International, Written Tales Magazine, The Statesman, Setu Bilingual Journal, Café Dissensus and Borderless Journal, to name a few. Ajanta has published a collection of short stories - The Elixir Maker and Other Stories in 2019 (Authorspress, New Delhi), and has contributed poems to several seminal anthologies of poetry.

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Added Frog Thought

As if this dreamer were

Jorge Luis Borges

holding a small frog

a butterfly caught half-

in half-out of his mouth.

The dreamer exits the train

with his old mother

still long before she will die

and stands among the larger bullfrogs

covering all the sidewalks and grasses.

The little frog seems excited in his palm.

And the dreamer recalls other dreams

dreams he will never forget

and for one minute

he puts the small frog down

on a shaded walk

and then picks it back up.

Retired children’s librarian Alan Bern is a photographer with awards for his poems and stories. He is also a performer with dancer/composer Lucinda Weaver as PACES: dance & poetry fit to the space and with musicians from composingtogether.org. His most recent book, greater distance, Lines & Faces, his press with artist/printer Robert Woods: linesandfaces.com.

 

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B

I Must Say

My last poem will include everything –

asparagus, needles, sirens, hogs.

It will hold Paris and Venus equally.

Physics and philosophy will vie for honours,

my last poem containing a burning house

and smattering of incontinent gods.

You’ll find a cat walking in snow

and bittersweet death cap mushroom.

Tire irons. Vitamins. A selection of vinyl 45s.

There’ll be plenty of the past in my last poem.

Lost loves. Mammoths. Missing silverware.

I’ll be writing for a month of Sundays.

The eternal flame and belching cow –

all manner of chaos shall be routed.

Enchanted Forest

Once you’re in the forest

you can never leave the forest.

 

Becoming lost is the first step

towards becoming found.

 

The forest is cold and dark

and represents the psyche.

 

The forest is quiet, your breaths

and heartbeat the only sounds.

 

Liminality and transformation –

this is what the forest stands for.

 

The way home is through the forest.

May you never get there.

 

The forest is a sea of trees.

It is the timberland of your longing.

 

The heart of a dark forest

is the dark heart of a lover.

The last resort for highwaymen.

A maze without end.

The voice of a spellbound child

is the song of the forest.

As refuge or uncanny haunt:

the pristine forest.

The oldest word for ‘world’

is the word for ‘forest’.

 

Roots and branches, we love the rain,

but fear the winter.

 

There is no heat without fire.

There is no light without love.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician and multiple Pushcart nominee, has had work appear in hundreds of publications around the world. The winner of the 2020 Libretto Chapbook Prize (20 Sonnets), his books include The So-Called Sonnets; An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; Like As If; All Right Already and Hearsay.

 

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C

Morning Concert

 

Though early and I out to hear bird calls,

Rosie the Wildcat sits in the shade,

paws neatly tucked in their white mittens,

her tortoise-shell markings elegant.

Her son, the fluffy black Spook,

wanders back over to the feeding bowls.

He is always raucous in his demands,

and she just looks at me

with a yellow stare. They call

to each other if one is absent

when time for the feast comes,

mornings, late afternoons.

 

Spook sings his harsh hunger

while the bird sounds form

a mixed chorus of un-matched tones:

scales, sound chips, cries, tunes,

moans, head-bangings,

long whistles like stretchy string.

They form a nonsense symphony.

The two predators lounge here

in mild morning slant-sun. We now

hear a squeal of garbage truck brakes.

The conductor of this orchestra

seems to be somewhat eccentric.

Carol Hamilton taught 2nd grade through graduate school in Connecticut, Indiana and Oklahoma, and was a medical translator and storyteller. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has published 17 books: children’s novels, legends and poetry and has been nominated nine times for a Pushcart Prize.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Espying Through The Third Eye

At fifty-nine, the lines on my face and body read as tattoos of aging

As a sign that life has played itself out on my anatomy, wholly, thoroughly

My frame is a perforation of needle-jabs

A brittle commotion of calligraphy honeycombed into contours, craters and ravines

A bodywork that the world sees as the archetypal crone

As a wise woman mostly, a swan in the sunlight

But sometimes, as a sinister form, like steel wrapped in silk

But I say my body has no language of form, time or space

I am the maiden, mother and the crone, wise and sinister

A kaleidoscope of realities in one whole

Ruling the realm of the heaven, earth and underworld

Joining the past, present and the future in a sacred continuity

Shining as pure light, in all colors, its singleness un-scattered, yet with no hue

And surging like a river uninterrupted in its headwater, channel and mouth

My spirituality that began at the groin, has ascended up my back, and returned to my navel

Throwing useful conceptual techniques like space, time, age, action and inaction, good and bad, beautiful and ugly into a spin

Combining terror, beauty and knowledge instead while also dissolving fear and regret

This in its knowing that natural events balance themselves by seeking their opposites

And that all life is destruction and healing, a mix of youth and aging, both at the same time, and then over and over again

I now look within and keep my 36,000 Indian gods and goddesses alive inside

I gather water, fire and light and bring them to a single point

I mutate into the moon above water that sits with the universe, yet in solitude

Contemplating silence, the subtle in its life, perfectly, effortlessly

Aware that the process of balance is at the heart of all healing

Chitra Gopalakrishnan, a New Delhi-based journalist and a social development communications consultant, uses her ardor for writing, wing to wing, to break firewalls between nonfiction and fiction, narratology and psychoanalysis, marginalia and manuscript and tree-ism and capitalism.

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Burn It Down

Mama’s crying for their sons,

war is for the rich motherfuckers

to pad their bank accounts

There are no sides

no borders

no religions

It’s all greed and hate,

death songs on the wind

blood and tears soaking the earth

All ancient wisdom is

silent

it’s all been written and read

The sky crumbles into

a sheet of fire rain

shark river where salt

water crocodiles and piranhas

live with the killers

and denizens of the deep.

Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. His 30 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Catfish is from Albuquerque and Milwaukee.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Oyster

Stolen from winter, an oyster shell

carries the sounds of animals

shoeboxing in trees, beaks

hacking frozen soil, a solitary fox

scouting and people hidden

like summer clothes in the attic

in its rough grey surface. Carefully

prise it open to reveal the quietest day.

Swallow the meat. Avoid comparisons

of brine or rust - the sea invented this

to help us understand its loneliness.

Christian Ward is a UK-based writer who can be currently found in One Hand Clapping, Literary Yard, Impspired and Poetry and Places. He was recently commended in the inaugural Dead Cats Poetry Prize.

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When We Took Notice of You

There was such joy with you,

your presence sharp among the faded,

voice quick among sloth,

lithe monkey in the jungle

beside slowness of gray,

we all noticed,

did you notice?

You were flame,

hot, intense within the confines,

uncomfortable but compelling,

magnetic, our resistance pale

against you, did you notice

our attention

warmed?

Foreignness for some I suspect,

not for me, I’ve traveled long,

know golden temptations,

notice the draw

of the exotic, beautiful, joyous.

Did you notice

my notice?

Cleo Griffith lives in the rich central valley of California, in which grow profuse numbers of poets and artists of all types, as well as the produce that feeds the world. (We feed the souls.) Widely published, she is active in the poetry community, on the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin Quarterly and is Vice-President of the Modesto chapter of the National League of American PenWomen.

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Haiku

 

moonrise stroll

a nightingale song

in the cedars

 

a rapture of colours

in the woods

spring earth

 

tatting lace collar

on a rocking chair

spring afternoon

 

the scent of rose buds

in a lace doily bowl

summer perfumes

 

thermal updraft

whooping cranes

flying north

 

Christina Chin paints and writes haiku. She won the 34th Annual Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival 2020 Contest, the 8th Setouchi Matsuyama 2019 Photo-Haiku Contest and two City Soka Saitama’s 2020 haiku prizes. She also earned five merits in the World Haiku Review August 2020. She is published in multilingual haiku journals and anthologies.

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D

St Mildred’s

Long these stones have marked our past

Witnessed vows of love and caring

Clasped the joy of infant naming

Hugged the sorrows at the last.

 

Stored within their crystal pores

Are the old familiar words

Of wisdom, sorrow, thanks and joy

Through centuries of peace and wars

 

The gravestones now are choked with grass

And up above the lead’s been stolen

Woodworm eats the ancient bell-frame

Bats have marked the tablets’ brass

 

Stepping up and down the pews

Look along the raftered nave

Read the tablets, track the history

Spare the time to gaze and muse

 

Sniff the memories in the mildew

Marvel at the parsons’ faith

Pop some coins into the safe-box

These frugal days there are too few

 

Centuries of wind and weather

Have swept around these weary walls

Faith may wither, hope prevails

That these old stones may stand forever.

And somehow give us hope and trust

And sometimes bring a few together

To love and comfort one another

God or no God when we must.

David Brancher, 92, is from Wales. His only submitted poetry, a long prose-poem, was published decades ago by New Welsh Review.

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High July 

 

A sunset walk in the high blue, 
one of those days that stretches so far you can’t believe the morning belongs to the afternoon, 
or that either could ever become a night. 
 
I would have been here sooner 
but I was busy cleaning up the mess that came from trying it your way, 
shoving past the bootblacks and venerable metallurgists. 

1000 years of dreaming at your feet and this is all it got me—behind. 

I wrote our Midsummer vows on a ream accidentally smeared with bug blood. 
You know how it is with cosh boys….. 
 
But Carter was elected with those rock-n-roll funds 
and you know Twiggs Lyndon--he ain’t the only one. 
 
Blues invocations in southern graveyards seem to stick--like faulty ripcords. 

Dana Miller is a wicked wordsmith, giggling provocateuse, and mega-melomaniac from Atlanta, Georgia. Her poetic syllables like to trundle in the wilds—usually in search of a smackerel or two. On their way, they have found themselves featured in Postscript Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, Fairy Piece, Sledgehammer Lit, FERAL: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Small Leaf Press, and Nauseated Drive. When not wielding a lethal pen, Dana adores surf culture, Australian grunge rockers, muscle cars, Epiphone guitars, glitter, Doc Martens, and medieval-looking draft horses with feathered feet. Oxford, England is her spirit-home and Radiohead is holding the last shard of her girlhood heart.

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Piece of Alright

 

On crawling beneath the turnpike

you snuck into my hollows,

camped for a season,

leaving debris,

I confiscate daily.

 

Since that time, I’ve faltered:

surer still of my irrelevance,

aware of derision filtered

through cracks in my cavity,

that harvested fear,

from a field of uncertainty.

 

I’ve toyed with myself;

projected moments into journeys,

journeys into homecomings,

homecomings into carnage,

repeat, repeat, repeat...

 

Holding onto a piece of alright,

an okay moment

on the cusp of something;

the beautiful begonia

I’d planted in full sun,

marinated in urine,

choked on weeds.

 

Yet somewhere that moment exists;

a place where memories collide,

a timeless place of corresponding desire

that lasts beyond a passing thought,

and nestles in a distant heart.

 

David Ratcliffe has been writing short stories, song lyrics and poetry for around 25 years and is a member of the poetry group Worldly Worders. David’s poem Home Straight featured at the Fermoy International Festival in 2016. His poem He Crawled was placed third for the Pushcart Prize in the Blue Nib magazine in 2018. Also, in 2018 his poem Pour me a Vision featured in VatsalaRadhakeesoon.wordpress.com for Dylan Thomas Day. His poem Barren Branch won a place at the NIMHAF Festival, on the subject of loneliness (to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week) 10th – 16th May 2021. The stage play Intervention was written to represent World Peace Day. His poetry and stories have been published in the following platforms: Poetry Pacific Magazine, TRR Poetry, Sixteen Magazine, Mad Swirl Tulip Tree Review (Print Version) Oddball Magazine, Poem Hunter, The BeZine, and Creative Talents Unleashed, namely.

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The tide’s resilience

Maybe it’s the moon’s strong pull or the

star’s magnetic twinkle that gives

it strength.

Life’s everyday challenges, walks and talks

take this loyal body of water to the

furthest part of existence.

Then seemingly. from a non-directional

place it comes quietly, roaring back.

It approaches the seashore softly but

with urgency every time.

Rocks, branches, Man’s deposited items

may cause a challenge to

maneuver around.

Caretaker of its living inhabitants, this

blue crystal clear liquid faithfully

fulfills its job with love.

It nurtures the body, heart and mind.

The joy of its accomplishment can be

heard in its splash of laughter

along the sand.

Dietra Reid is a Christian, African-American mother. She is an internationally published poet and author. She has worked in retail, education, corporate and the U.S. Postal Service.

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Toads

Infamously ugly, toads

seldom hop, but

with the long, slow steps

of a stalker,

creep into and out of dank places.

 

Their color’s awful—a goulash

of greens, browns and black

that’s no color at all

and splattered with warts.

Your skin crawls.

 

And yet, contra naturam,

you take delight

in their outsiders’ night music—

that high tenor, a bit sharp,

but irrepressible.

 

Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. He is the winner of the Eric Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website: www.don-e-thompson.com.

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Physics

 

He said, “How’s school?”

I look up at him

and tell him I am not in school.

I could have told him I was

and he would have believed me.

I could have told him I was

studying mathematics and physics

and started throwing out theories at him,

and he would have said, “Sure kid,

that’s great.” then would have

walked away from me,

but at last, I didn’t know any theories.

He walked away only after saying

he thought I was in school because

of all the notebooks and books I had

underneath my chair.

All I said was that I read a lot.

Maybe when he walked away

he was a little disappointed

because I made him look foolish

when I corrected him.

All he wanted was conversation,

and I gave him none.

 

Duane Anderson currently lives in La Vista, NE, and volunteers with a non-profit organization as a Donor Ambassador on their blood drives. He has had poems published in The Pangolin Review, Fine Lines, The Sea Letter, Cholla Needles, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poesis Literary Journal and several other publications.

 

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Who will be there?

 

Who will be there to answer

its playful mating call

when the last red panda chirps

as groves of bamboo fall?

 

Who will heed the sawing cry

of Amur leopard in the air

as it hunts snow-swept taiga

without kindred in its lair?

 

Who will requite the sonar

of vaquita porpoise undersea

as it roams the Sea of Cortez

robbed of pod to share its glee?

 

Who will sing the song

of sunbird in mountain mist

bursting through rhododendrons

bereft of lovers that exist?

 

Who will soothe the anguish

of lonely lowland gorilla’s howl

as it lumbers through logged jungle

finding no brethren in its prowl?

 

Who will answer to the pain

of black rhino’s fateful day

when it trumpets for its mate

slain for ivory to display?

 

Will you?

If so, what will you say?

Douglas J. Lanzo, a prolific, eco-conscious American poet, feels blessed to have published over 125 free verse, traditional, haiku, senryū and tanka poems in over 30 literary publications across the United States, England, Wales, Austria, Canada, Australia, Mauritius and The Caribbean since 2020 including in Vita Brevis Press’ 2021 Poetry Anthology, Brought to Sight & Swept Away.

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E

Lonely for You

 

It’s you my thoughts stay

Linger in the what if…

 

Is there such a dream to delve?

 

How I wish I was forgetful like you

Of all that has been, all that keeps us eternally bound

To watch you from afar

Your life so meticulously laid out

Full of others who are not me

But there are moments when our paths meet

You on one side me on the other

 

Dare you look over?

 

A glance, a smile, a hello

I see it… the struggle to understand what it means

You and me – somewhere, some time, you can’t recall

A knowing that is as real as the warmth of sunlight

You cannot touch it, but it penetrates you all the same

But it is fleeting, and you move on, as do I

To my path on one side you on the other

Your destiny without me, my destiny knowing

How lonely I am without you

Elizabeth Conte is a women’s fiction writer, “Creating beauty for the mind”. She is a writer of poetry, short stories, and novels, with her first book, Finding Jane, due for release in Fall, 2021, and an anthology, The Truths That Can’t be Told, released Spring 2021. When she is not writing books or tormented with poetry, she is writing her blog, Writerdeeva.com. Find out more: ElizabethConte.com.

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Whisper-Thin the Barrier

Damp fallen leaves line edges of a stream

winding amid lichen-covered tree trunks.

I sit listening to water flow over stones

and through submerged tree roots.

A woodpecker taps a lonely rhythm

on a hollow tree somewhere.

No one answers or applauds his performance.

I think of our town’s concert hall where mother

took me often, me in my patent leather

Mary Janes and lacy white gloves. I loved to dress up,

loved ballets and concerts. That our little town

in those days could’ve had such elegance

sometimes amazes me now, but after all

we didn’t have computers or television.

The record player was something though.

I was not allowed to touch those hard, black disks

which produced such magic sounds rotating under a needle.

Music of the soul is what I seek now in my advancing years.

My spirit is free. It wanders through miracles and challenges

of life and lands upon a wooded scene or a concert hall.

No electronic devices needed here, a pencil and a notepad

make nice companions. Pain and grief are in my Pandora’s box

too, but I have learned compassion for myself and others,

and, in the weirdness of consciousness, even those hard times

shine with a patina of age and mix with sounds

of a woodpecker tapping near a gently gurgling stream.

Emily Black, the second woman to graduate from the University of Florida in Civil Engineering, engaged in a long engineering career as the only woman in a sea of men. Lately she’s been busy writing vignettes of her life and has two poems in the March issue of Verse-Virtual and more to be printed in the June issue of Door is A Jar and the October issue of Sac Magazine. Emily was selected as Poet of the Week by Poetry Super Highway for the week of March 22-28, 2021.

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In her hair, poems

Each time I make it

I pretend it will be

good as hers was.

She left me the pan that

she made that risotto in; the

recipe scribbled, decades ago.

She wore poems in her hair;

long braids till she was 90.

Sometime I’d pin purple

ribbons between them.

I picture their poetry, when

I make that risotto in the

pan that she left me, though

I know this by now; it will never

quite taste, as delicious as hers was.

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting with macrame and doll making. She volunteers in animal rescue. She lives by the beach, which provides much of the inspiration for her work. Her poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Literary Nest, Cholla Needles and other journals.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Centre of the Rink

When my name is called I shrug off my jacket,

as if I could shed the outer layer my mother presents

to the world: the daughter who reflects her,

and reveal me, the one covered in a second hand

dress. Next the right guard comes off the right blade.

It has to be done in order. I feel the sharp edges

like my mother’s tongue and the hollow arc

between where I’d hide if that were an option.

Next the left guard, avoiding its reflective surface

catching my face. I know I look tense and nervous,

pale as a moon. I flex my knees, wish my tights

were thicker to cover my shivers. It’s not the cold.

I grab the barrier, step onto the ice, and push away

from the rough edges which contrast with the smooth

rink. As I near the centre, the lighting silhouettes

the audience. All I have to do now is wait for my

programme to start, lean into the music, allow

its support to guide me, skate as if no one’s watching.

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com. Find her here: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaLee1. Twitter @Emma_Lee1.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Narcissus

 

The ma buys bulbs and tiny stones

in pale colors

places stones in bowl

set bulbs into stones

and water.

 

Narcissus the ma said

flowers

bowl on little table

next to window

for light

the kid can see from bed.

 

Every day the kid watches

green shoots grow taller

until little buds appear

open into white flowers

scenting the room

like something wild

something wonderful.

 

Eve Rifkah was co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc. (1998-2012), a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets. Founder, and editor DINER, a literary magazine with a 7-year run. Presently she is a retired professor from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She has run an ongoing writing workshop for 15 years and teaches workshops and classes at WISE (Worcester Institute for Senior Education). She lives in Worcester, MA with her husband, musician, artist, writer Michael Milligan and their cat.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Luna Moths

 

Fragile, paper-thin wings

flicker luminous tones

laced in powdery veins;

candlelight exposes clockwork

illuminating minuscule scales

overlapping like tiled roofs

once touched,

they mutate to dust…

as tomb-enclosed,

crumbling corpses.

 

Luna moths are lovers,

romanticised by moonlight;

crescent moons mark each wing

revealing worship,

tattoos of first love -

a natural partnering

that’s lucid, fluid,

organically parallel.

 

They thrive from moonlight

are nocturnal solar panels,

resplendent in silvery shade

like a crow with shiny sovereigns,

(not his for the taking);

blind-sighted,

blinkered by moon dust,

stunned by velveteen night.

 

Energy thrums in tendrils

as moths rest,

re-charge as i-phones

in docking stations:

body battery high,

powered by solar wings

beating luna lyrics

as untuned lovers:

raw yet meaningful poetics.

 

Symbiotic sound-waves rise...

 

… climb…

 

aspire to loftier climes…

 

Finally, they reach —-

 

verdant attic tips

where chemistry spins,

swirls mesmerise

in conical flasks

with glass-less walls;

distilling vapours are radiant

like satin-sheen:

a luminescent heaven.

 

Greedy caterpillars once hungered,

now achieve pinnacles –

evolving from silken cocoons

in leafy Moses’ baskets

where bug-like eyes

suckled luna liquid as milky dew:

dilating olive-beaded minds:

expanding starlit runways

paved by moonlit markings.

 

Lime-kissed wings

caress metallic moon dust

as they land, settle, nest

(within the arms)

of a timeless, orbed lover –

looped metallic rings

bind moon (Mr) and moth (Mrs):

a marriage of energised flight.

 

Emma Wells has poetry published by: The World’s Greatest Anthology, The League of Poets, The Lake, The Beckindale Poetry Journal, Dreich Magazine, Drunken Pen Writing, Visual Verse, Littoral Magazine, Derailleur Press, Giving Room Magazine, Chronogram and for the Ledbury Poetry Festival.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

F

Pollinating Bootless Love

You texted saplings first, my bon ami.

They took root via telephone and soon

exfoliated into repartee

that branched into a stroll one afternoon.

You then came to my domicile like leaves

that breach the fence that segregates it from

the house next door. I gathered you like sheaves

of wheat that turned my humdrum days to plum

pudding across the weeks and months that bloomed

like foreplay to our burgeoning affair.

Though Baby’s Breath and Tulips hence perfumed

the garden, it’s evident you didn’t care

to water it with more than salty tears

of apathy that blanched what you had sown.

Indeed such budding disenchantment sears

whatever kindling blossoms may have grown

inside its flower bed. Why till my soil

to nurture such invigorating fruit

then leave its produce to my futile toil?

As such, I’d see it wither to a fragile shoot,

deracinated by your rake. I plucked each weed

that reared. And still my garden grew to seed.

Frank de Canio As a brief bio: I was born & bred in New Jersey, I worked for many years in New York City. I love music from Bach to Shakira to Amy Winehouse. I also attend a Café Philo in Lower Manhattan every other week, and a poetry workshop which are now, since Corona, ZOOM events.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Tamam Shud

 

It is finished,

Everything has come to an end.

 

The world no longer turns,

The sun no longer shines above.

Time has stopped its eternal progression.

Everything has come to an end.

 

There’s no longer a life worth living,

Nothing makes sense anymore.

Meaning is nowhere to be found.

Everything has come to an end.

 

A black cloth covers your soul,

Anything you can think of is empty.

The girl you love will never love you.

Everything must come to an end.

 

Everything needs to come to an end

Because we’ve been lied to.

This too shall pass?

No, this can’t pass,

This needs to stay:

Your suffering is the clay you’ve been crafted from

And what constitutes you,

What makes you you.

But you don’t want to be you anymore.

 

Because you’ll never be happy,

And you’ll never know what it really means to (love and) be loved.

That’s why this can’t go on forever,

Because you’re made out of sadness and blues,

And the girl you love is long gone,

And you know you aren’t strong enough anymore to accept that.

 

That’s why it is finished,

That’s why you plead and you cry and you crave

That everything has, must, and needs to come

To an end.

 

Felipe Rodolfo Hendriksen studies Literature at Pontificia Universidad Católica, Argentina. He currently lives in Quilmes.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

G

Oblivion

Beneath the bones of a city, history suffers from amnesia

long nights hold the wreckage in a wellspring of dreams.

 

The different versions of raging flame redraft-

burn the dry twigs, carry the smell in teasing wind.

 

Laughter floats in canals carving through old villages

dungeons once filled with skeletons invite evil lairs.

 

Cotton clouds rewrite the red jasper twilight skies,

In early childhood the strangers strike out memories.

 

Clay lamps highlight the hidden wall cracks

stories and myths have their lungs punctured

 

Images of tiny bridges and flowering forest floors

let the woodpeckers cry for the high-rise walls.

 

Words are cureless, a thread takes years to spun,

Silence runs all summer; do not believe in the future.

 

Gopal Lahiri was born and lives in Kolkata, India. He is a bilingual poet, writer, editor, critic and translator and published in English and Bengali language. He has authored 23 books to his credit. His poetry is also published across various anthologies as well as in eminent journals of India and abroad. His poems are translated in 14 languages and he is the recipient of Setu Excellence award, Pittsburgh, US, 2020.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

The Hunt

 

In spring the untended stems

sway in their wayward reach.

There is a sky darkening,

the shadow of cloud on water

These flowers are for the sun,

as the forest is for the fugitive.

When the hunting book opens

death invites itself.

Sympathy seeks out the wounds

of fox and hare and hart.

 

The sacrifice of self by fear

demands a steady hand

in the hunting of the wild,

all energy dispersed in flight.

The hunting hounds can follow

to the end of earth,

saltwater shingle strand

where the trail runs cold.

And there the solitude cries

sequestered from the world.

 

A creature of the dream

so suddenly broken,

as surely as words are melting

on the tip of your tongue.

The meaning escapes a suspicious eye

scanning the horizon for signs

of movement among the stones.

They shimmer with the fear

of remaining unnamed and unknown

when the sea has no need to return.

 

Geoffrey Heptonstall’s publications include two volumes of poetry, The Rites of Paradise (2020) and Sappho’s Moon (2021), a novel and several playscripts.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

J

Star Me

I sleep in the soul

of the world

 

Trusting in a piece

of the moon

 

To jacket the dark night

as the stars

were given away

(This poem is an erasure of Margaret Hunt’s 1884 translation of The Star-Money from Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm.)

Irish-Canadian poet Jade Riordan lives and writes north of 60 in the land of the midnight sun. Her poetry has appeared in Abridged, Chrysanthemum, Eksentrika, Praxis, and elsewhere.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Beauty

 

Callas said music

Is meant to be soothing.

Keats wrote a beautiful song.

Integrity, talent are driven away

In a world where it’s

Right to be wrong.

 

Joseph Hart has a BA. He has had poems published in small magazines, and was twice nominated for a Pushcart. A chapbook of his, Poems Published in India, has just been accepted by Kelsay Books. His favorite poet is Keats.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Limited Time

 

I have often traveled in the gentle flow of life, finding

comfort in the softness of autumn leaves clinging to

sycamore trees beside peaceful ponds where bullfrogs

sang in throaty voices. I have dreamed in the softness

of thoughts where aging was nonexistent, and tiny

birds sang melodious songs all day long with no fear

of dying.

 

But, I now live in the ephemeral rusting hours of

dwindling time, where aging bones become brittle,

steps become laborious, and hair fades into ash. It is a

place, where sleep is often illusionary, and dreams

become mistaken for reality. I still find the ginger

colored sunrise hopeful but the gray sunset painful,

being an omen of something fading, dipping into

the final moments of my limited time.

 

James, a Best of Web nominee and three-time Pushcart nominee, has had four collections of poetry; “Solace Between the Lines,” “Light,” “Ancient Rhythms,” and “The Silent Pond,” over 1525 poems, five novels and 35 short stories published worldwide. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO, and his doctorate from BYU. His fifth poetry book, Serenity: Soft Poems for Hard Times, is out this year.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

An old man sitting

 

An old man sitting and smoking alone,

On a bench, in a cold empty park, torn.

He sat still, with an old ancient brown coat.

He probably was on his Boblo boat.

He was well-shaven. His hair was all clay grey.

Wrinkles all over his blue face mislay,

His skinny hand was crumbling and trembling,

His light brown eyes at the world were gazing.

Having more deep wrinkles than friends, he cries

As they all walked by his teary tired eyes.

Nothing but smoke came out of his wise gate,

But his blank stare spoke a thousand words hate;

Words only his heavy heart could express.

He looked at the other side and felt blessed

By the sight of their tired Baobab tree,

Whose brown dry leaves are nearly all gone free.

He smiled and put out his nearly-finished

Cigarette and walked away, still punished

By life... In clear tears, he walked eyeing life.

 

Javisth Bhugobaun is a young poet from Mauritius previously in The Pangolin Review, and poetry collection Contemplations.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

song of joy

 

I sing the grief with joy

Nothing about me anymore

The charm of melancholy

The sweetness that plagues

 

To the soul the frantic chance

Land which columbina

The laughter that gives rise

Fetching lamp

 

Or another vegetable idea

Those that exude us

And obsolete practice

Pusillanimous gives us anger

 

And for what happens

Lovelessly

The being, a being, who dies

To love hopelessly.

 

Januário Esteves is a poetry lover.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Common Creed

I believe in a permeable deity,

one with no stony borders,

the kind that opens every door

to let me in.

 

I believe when I peel back

layers of my skin gently

(or scratch hard in great need),

a sacred sap leaks through

the callouses of years.

 

There within, I see

a golden alive light

warm as fresh honey and soft

amber flowing amiably.

 

Though I might find bits of a torn

bruised eyelid, maybe strands

of unraveling hope floating

in that shiny stream,

I know comfort will course through

and I shall be cradled like a child

undone by a scraped bloody knee.

 

I believe all the jagged splinters

of life do soak and dissolve

in the holy alchemy underneath

this cover of skin.

 

Jean Biegun, retired in California, began writing poetry twenty years ago after taking a Creative Writing course at a two-year college. Work has been published in Mobius: The Poetry Magazine, After Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and Art, World Haiku Review, Goose River Anthology, Fox Cry Review, As It Ought to Be, Ariel Chart, Amethyst Review, Door Is a Jar, Time of Singing, Red Eft Review, Ancient Paths, Time of Singing and other places.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Windless Twilight

 

Curlicues of meringue spindrift

stipple writhing blue bay.

Ocean winds buffet oak trees,

knock over irises, strip roses of petals,

blow frenetic hummingbirds off course.

 

Late afternoon sunlight burns away purple fog.

Icy breezes abate.

Scarlet salvia smolders above cedar compost.

Warm garden releases star jasmine perfume.

 

Windless twilight burgeons

beneath pink cartoon clouds.

Darkness separates itself into bat projectiles.

Rhinestone stars fleck sapphire firmament,

frame ascending spring moon.

 

Jennifer Lagier has published nineteen books and in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, edits the Monterey Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Recent publications: work included in Humana Obscura, Harbinger Asylum, The Rockford Review, Syndic Literary Journal, Second Wind: Words & Art of Hope & Resilience. Her most recent books include: Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press) and COVID Dissonance (CyberWit).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Loneliest man

[for Buzz Aldrin (Neil Armstrong & Michael Collins)]

 

When Buzz and Neil stepped into Lunar Module Eagle

leaving their buddy Michael aboard the Command Module

 

Columbia’s pilot Colonel Collins was said to be

the loneliest man in history

 

But now that both Michael and Neil have passed on

only Colonel Aldrin walks beneath the moon

 

I imagine him retracing those steps of half-century past

a sentient dot in space walking the lunar surface

 

Does Buzz still see Neil’s shadow

hear Michael calling on the radio

 

Does he still watch Mother Earth rise

blue jewel in the black sky of his mind’s eye

 

Do those weightless gestures of terrific gravity

shape Colonel Aldrin’s cellular memory

 

As aged mind and body grow ever more sage

approaching the azimuth of advancing age

 

I see three men who set down something solid in space

because they believed in the elegant grace

 

Of math and physics.

 

Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in Canada. Recent work can be found in Bluepepper, Every Day Fiction, Chiron Review, Jewish Literary Journal, 365 Tomorrows, Dissident Voice, Boog City, Anti Heroin Chic, Ginosko Review, and New Verse News.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

What Are You?

 

What are you?

Stupid?

 

Must be!

 

No,

it wasn’t bats

or

pangolins

or

some stupid-ass market-

 

it was payback!

 

Bio-payback!

 

For the meddling;

for the incursions;

for the tariffs-

 

for the lack of respect!

 

What are you?

Stupid?

 

Must be!

 

J. H. Johns “grew up and came of age” while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia. Specifically, the two places “responsible” for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia. Since then, he has moved on to Chicago- for a brief stint- and New York City- for a significantly longer stay. He is widely published and a 2018 Pushcart nominee.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Admitting

 

Recently my daughter admitted to me

That she used to pretend to fall asleep

In the living room just so I could pick her

Up and carry her to her bed. She seems

To remember every kiss on the forehead,

Every “I love you more than could know.”

 

My son admitted he used to pretend to be

Asleep when I would come into their room

Each night they were with me and tell them

How wonderful they are, how they filled me

With love and happiness and he, too, seems

To remember every kiss on the head, every

Single “I love you more than you could know.”

 

As for me, I have nothing to admit: I’ve told them

Everything

Already.

 

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. The website fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Annette and the Peach

 

The peach is round and ripe and ready.

The flesh can barely contain itself.

 

The juices are about to burst through the skin.

And your lips cannot contain them all.

 

Some will collect on your tongue,

until it shakes like a wet dog.

 

Some will dribble down your chin,

drip onto your succulent breasts.

 

What a peach you are, Annette

and what a peach you hold in your hand.

 

Go ahead. Bite into it, my girl.

I can only imagine I’m that peach for so long.

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Thalia

 

Muse of the comedic play.

Bearer of the comic mask.

Whimsical lady,

Fill our hearts with joy.

Idyllic muse,

Bring the beauty of nature

Into our souls.

Inject ivy into irises.

Wear your wreath with rapture.

O jovial one,

Your comedy is needed,

Especially for those

Without reason to laugh.

Medicine woman

In your own rite,

Prescribe me wit

That I can take daily.

 

Jack M. Freedman (Jacob Moses) is a poet/spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. He penned the chapbooks ...and the willow smiled (Cyberwit, 2019), Art Therapy 101 (Cyberwit, 2019), and Seance (Cyberwit, 2020). Publications featuring his work span the globe. Countries include USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Ukraine, South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Thailand.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

vigil

flashed forward, casket in mind, thin
drum of a somber march, figure cut
in taut, stitched fabric, remembrance 
of an encompassing warmth, a joy
amidst distress, a language weighed
as something honest, old tales and 
fragmenting structures at the finger
tips, the steady thickening of vines
and fruit, the pauses and the passing
of hands, the consequences of a daily
love, the fervour of well-wrought 
meaning, the secret place in jealous
protection, the smoothened edge of
youthful regret.

Jonathan Chan is a writer, editor, and graduate of the University of Cambridge. Born in New York to a Malaysian father and South Korean mother, he was raised in Singapore, where he is presently based. He is interested in questions of faith, identity, and creative expression. He has recently been moved by the writing of Ee Tiang Hong, Md Mukul Hossine, and Ocean Vuong. 
 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

K

Wild

 

Hiking through the clouds

in tropical rainforest

hidden eyes watching

Katacha Díaz is a Peruvian American writer. Her prose and poetry has been internationally published in literary journals, print and online magazines, and anthologies. She lives and writes up in her perch in a quaint little historic town at the mouth of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, USA.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Wardrobe Mistress

 

To wear or not to wear; what be the evening’s costume?

Whether, sans lingerie, I’m emboldened to thrust myself

upon him, with blushes and flashes of outrageous flirtation,

or to go gussied in a paisley sea of psychedelic bo-ho habiliments?

But, by donning both, I may a doppelganger seduction devise. To vamp, to camp—

Yes! More!—and, by a merry whim, to say we shall now commence

our shameless play of the thousand-fold embodied tremors

that lovers have always been heir to. ’Tis a consummation

evoutly to be wished.

 

Karla Linn Merrifield has had 900+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the 2019 full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. She is currently at work on a poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars; the book is slated to be published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

I believe people sink into walls

 

leave what was inside them inside

I believe every person who looks

finds the last person who looked

I believe all the memories of all the memories

are part of the air, and if you dug your fingers

into the softness of a chest, you would pull back love

I believe every thing that every one has ever lost

is stacked under the earth, waiting

but do you believe in god? you ask me again

I close my eyes, keep them closed

isn’t that what I said?

 

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. She lives in Graham, NC (United States) with her cats, Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

L

 

Exit, Pursued By Situational Irony

 

The scene--

sound effects and lighting cues

are go for a violent storm

a baby bundled on the Bohemian beach waits

while Jayden, a senior, in the role of Paulina’s husband

anticipates impending doom

and the chance to get offstage and check his texts

when tragedy strikes

the bear mask and furry leotard have gone missing

the wings are aflutter

Evelyn, the stage manager, curses into her headset

the director’s pulse hits 150

Hunter erstwhile pharaoh in last month’s production

of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

races for the costume of the passing goat

jumps on stage dressed as a deranged herbivore

head butts Antigonus out of sight of the audience

where he is presumably consumed by hysterical laughter

 

Lara Dolphin is an attorney, nurse, wife and mom of four amazing kids; she is exhausted and elated most of the time.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

watch me shine

 

when i was at my lowest point,

thinking i wasn’t worthy at all;

i was sent a barn owl

 

reminding me of my own magic,

guiding me down the path of

self-acceptance and growth

because sometimes in order

to grow we must let go of everything

we were and it can be hard—

 

but i feel relief in leaving behind

withered roots,

and dark dreams because i am

meant to be in a better place

than despair;

 

i am the daughter of the moon

watch me shine!

-linda m. crate

 

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: the samurai (Yellow Arrow Publishing, October 2020). She’s also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). She also has four published poetry full length collections and three poetry microcollections.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

M

The Skin of Thought

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging;

it is the skin of living thought and changes from day to day

as does the air around us.—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

Scattered and unruly,

thoughts slither in at all hours.

We then specify and contain

their inexactness in a skin of words.

 

Like the flesh we live in,

that secures

blood, bone, organs,

and expands during

reach, retraction, intake,

these words,

contract and relax,

bend and billow,

as they wrap around fluid thought.

 

They pass through us

like the air we breathe,

gathering new meanings as they go;

they a plural plus a singular pronoun,

mask so much more than a face covering.

Marianne Brems’ first poetry chapbook is Sliver of Change (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her second chapbook Unsung Offerings (Finishing Line Press, 2021) is forthcoming in September 2021. Her poems have appeared in literary journals including The Pangolin Review, Nightingale & Sparrow, The Sunlight Press, and The Tiny Seed Literary Journal. She lives and cycles in Northern California. Website: www.mariannebrems.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Plenty More Fish in the Sea

 

Gone are the days

when you writhed and wriggled up on deck,

slapping your tail in the salty shallows

waiting with baited breath.

Now there’s only fish bones in my bed.

A spiky reminder to comb through

the depths we sank to from scaled heights.

Lemon bites in the back of the throat,

hooked by the bitterness.

We cast one off convinced that this time

we’ll reel in the real deal,

that between the puckered lips of Neptune’s kiss

lies a dish of the day for each of us.

But for now,

there’s only fish bones in my bed.

 

Matt Baker is the author of Encounters, a collection of short poems. He was born in Lincolnshire and has resided in Sheffield, Manchester, travelled across Europe and now lives in the Russian, Ural city of Perm.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

A morning day

 

The day begins with a simple breath

A lift and a heave and I am up on my feet

Up, slowly grazing through the marble floors seeking light

It is still not dawn yet and I am still not wake yet

In between wake and woke

I slumber through the silence that envelops me after a night’s sleep

This silence is so forgiving

So tender

Like a child’s smile.

As the dawn hungrily eats up the darkness,

Engulfed in orange tastes

My eyes draw in to the

The nasturtiums planted asunder

Still blooming frantically in April

Bursting forth with smiles and laughter

I catch them conversing with the summer breeze

Their orange eyes

Speaking a thousand golden dreams with the golden sunlight.

 

Megha Anne is a writer and a serious dog lover. She loves hiking and watching the moods of the sunlight play on hilltops and meadows. She has been a mountain child for as long as she can remember. Her family, including her dog, Coco, is one of travellers. Megha loves writing and believes that words help steer her imagination.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Twenty Meaningful Sentences for a Day

 

Every day I start out with twenty meaningful sentences,

so very intentionally that, I leave out empty platitudes

and express the same through smiles, nods, blushes and

eyes in agreement with each occasion, people misconstrue

my take on sentences for matureness and I on each day

set out with twenty meaningful sentences, all made

available to be used in time, I think over very critically

ahead of a talk, “Should I?” or “preserve them for a finer

occasion…” the unused retire to my guts to lodge in

and by day’s end I wind up with more than half of

meaningful sentences not ran through. My gut gets

well-lined with them and have set about spending

as nutrients at a low speed, and at a very low

speed I am turning wise… turning wise by chewing

words and meanings.

 

Mini Babu is working as Associate Professor of English with the Dept. of Collegiate Education, Govt. of Kerala and now working at BJM Govt. College, Chavara, Kollam. Her poems have featured in anthologies, journals and magazines. Her debut collection of poems is Kaleidoscope (2020).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

N

 

The Author

 

I write many poems unwritten by you

And think the thoughts half left by you.

It’s as lovely and as habitual

As drinking those last drops of tea from your tea cup

For you always forget to drink it to the lees.

Perhaps you suspect you may never finish once you begin

A poem- a thought- a cup of tea

Or even a tear.

For there is always me to pick from where you leave.

We are those gardeners who tend others’ garden

Forgetting that it’s not ours-

That it would never be ours.

We are those nomads-

Born to foster your orphaned Truths.

We are those clowns-

Born to paint your shame on ourselves.

All for what but to perish at the end.

The author dies many deaths

For living your many lives.

Nasnin Sulfath Nasser is a literary enthusiast and a budding writer from India whose first collection is The Impasto Effect, a miscellany of poetry and prose, published in 2015. Her second book is Meraki, with six other writers (May 2021). A literature graduate by education and a teacher by profession, reading, writing and teaching form the three pillars of her existence. Writing for her is a need and a catharsis, and scribbles on every aspect of day to day life that touches and pastiches her soul. She is working as an Assistant Professor in English at East Campus, Sacred Heart College, Cochin, Kerala, India.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Shy Angel

It was a long way, a descent but far
for an angel with bound wings, many
tiring steps, so it rested in a weeping
willow’s shade, as children appeared,
swinging on the dangling branches.
The angel nodded, the green carousel
swiftly turned, past dark when voices
called the riders home to supper, sleep,
a new morning. The angel was thirsty
now, parting strands of narrow leaves
it stood in starlight as the silver ropes
glinted, disappearing. By a mulberry
a child who wouldn’t mind watched
the fiery waterfall stream straight up
at the moon. Golden eyes in heaven
observed a fountain become a meteor.
It circled once only, the tracer of a shy
angel on a pilgrimage all angels make
until they’re light enough to fly away.

Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

P

You See

 

You laid cabbage leaves

on your eyes,

announced you can now read

without paragraphs.

 

You of the jaunty pencils,

slouchy jackets,

and aggressive shoes,

 

see beyond

the humidified headlines

into a golden fan

 

that breezes past signatures

to hum for peace

and long life for bees.

 

You drum for flowers,

winged Monarchs,

and Painted Ladies,

 

and smoke my eyes.

I flutter sunglasses

to hide from the fire.

 

You sharpen me

to pollinate all creatures

assigned to my poetry.

 

Pauli Dutton has been published in Verse Virtual, Altadena Poetry Review, Spectrum, Skylark, Mudpuppy, Imaginary Landscapes, and elsewhere. She was a librarian for forty years, where she founded, coordinated and led a public reading series from 2003 through 2014. She served on the Selection Committees for The Altadena Literary Review 2020 and the Altadena Poetry Review from 2015 - 2019. She co-edited the 2017 and 2018 editions. Pauli holds an MLS from University of Southern California.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Spring Tones

 

I jog on a trail by swamp’s edge:

a cacophony crescendos.

 

Peepers deafen my eardrums

as I dodge pinecones and stones.

 

I pause, lean over, peek into marsh weeds—

silence! Not a peep. Bird bones

 

lay by a Cypress knee. I scan—

no ripples, no tiny eyes peering at me.

 

Nothing.

 

I jog on. They scarf down bugs on moss-grown stumps,

serenade succulent mates in lush Amphibian zones.

Feed and breed.

 

I fancy my basement den, a brew, pretzel sticks

with Cucumber dip, and someone special

 

for an afternoon delight.

 

Peter Venable has written free and metric, sacred and secular, serious and whimsical verse for many decades He has been published in Third Wednesday, THEMA, Windhover, The Merton Seasonal, Ancient Paths, and others. He is a member of the Winston Salem Writers. His Jesus Through A Poet’s Lens is an eBook, available at petervenable.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Hope

Hope - the illegitimate child of desire

To perpetuate amidst indifferent flames

Gyrating around the frigid frames

Of inglorious exits in desolate fields,

Wrapped in bizarre polythene sheets.

That faceless son of lust for breath

Or fame or love or redemption,

Clinging onto shrines and prayers, and

Chantings amidst the shrill sirens.

Roads are littered with abundant hope

Hope - that alluring deluding dwarf

Illuminating vacant faces

In radiance of the naked flames

Flickering in the burning pyres.

That overrated worshipped imp

Sporting with life of dazzled men,

Concocting such strange mirages

Of miracles, magic and dreams insane.

Hope that deludes day and night

And intensifies a useless fight

Against the absurd certainties

Of melting wings of Icarus.

Shadowy stillness amidst the chaos

Smirks at hopeful circus stunts,

And acceptance in amusement

Smiles at deceiving painted suns.

Amber night in naked honesty

Gently treads in detachment, and

The rocks split without pangs

In deserts still and quiet in prayers -

Prayers that rise with heat and smoke

For a stillness beyond desire -

Where all dreams lay redundant, and

Void is embraced for eternity.

 

Piku Chowdhury is a postgraduate college teacher, editor, author, poet, painter, photographer, singer, mental health facilitator.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

R

Bits and Pieces

 

Bits and pieces of me met

Bits and pieces of you

Thinking a whole us would smile to the world

 

Bits and pieces of us discovered

That the whole of us did not meet at the right time

We thought of keeping the us in the coolest way

 

The coolest of us changed to fit bits and pieces

Of each of us, sometimes in the sweetest manner

Other times in the saddest way

 

It happened, the whole of us became once more

Bits and pieces of you and me

It only meant the human puzzle of us had not been able to click

 

Rani is from Mauritius. Better known as Shining Rain, mother of a sweet part of her soul, she is a lover of children and animals. Life has shown her waves and mountains, but she is still learning to swim and to climb, while finding the sunny way through the rough paths. Her poetry is linked to her deepest feelings.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Silk Flowers

 

You say you love silk flowers

now that they are made realistically,

so I bring a large bouquet to you

expensive for what they are

up the winding stairs to your rooms.

You exclaim and prance

around the room clutching them

in a little dance of acceptance

that I find so sweet.

You say ugly brown leaves

will droop, will drop

to die all too soon.

But I want to smell something,

squeeze the petals till they ooze life,

I want to lay them on your body

one by one as you lie on the bed.

You are delighted but must

place them in just the right vase

to center your new cocktail table.

Yet a cool draft from the window

suggests they will still be perfect

and brilliantly fresh

long after I am gone.

 

Ray Greenblatt has had two books come out in the hectic year of 2020. Until the First Light (parnilis media) a retrospective of forty years of his writing; and Man in a Crow Suit (bookarts press) an in-depth look at that unique bird who lives around us. He is on the staff of the Schuylkill Valley Journal and teaches a “Joy of Poetry” course at Temple University in Philadelphia.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Matter of the Mind

 

An idea lost

is there such a thing?

Clinging briefly

on the synapse

then floating away.

 

Thoughts come and go.

Some remain while others

flee elusively,

teasing until they’re forgotten

and replaced,

sometimes by lesser ones.

 

What a shame the poignant

may never make it

to the memory again.

Left disappointingly

unrealized.

Never reaching their potential.

Perhaps they were put here

solidly for a reason

but fell to earth incomplete

missing their calling.

Their timing not quite right.

No need for regret.

A better idea will be born from

future dreams waking.

Where the mind flows

rhythmically ready.

In a musical state where

every word and note

will be captured

perfectly.

Robert Pegel is a husband and father whose only child, his son Calvin, died four and a half years ago. Calvin was 16 and died in his sleep of unknown causes. Robert turned to poetry to transform his pain and loss. He tries to connect this world and the afterlife. He has been published in Grand Little Things, Ariel Chart, Trouvaille Review, Bluepepper, Lothlorien Poetry, The Poet, Down in the Dirt, Unique Poetry, Last Leaves and Adelaide Poetry Magazine. Robert lives in Andover, NJ USA with his wife, Zulma and their Min Pin dog, Chewy.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Fallen Angel

 

she is

a flower

with silver wings,

scattered

in a shaded

alley,

where voices

and promises

melt at sunrise,

as the city

yawns,

waiting for

the unwritten

story to

assemble

 

Roger G. Singer is the Poet Laureate Old Lyme, Connecticut.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

I Have a Truth to Tell

 

I have a truth to tell

and so do you

 

Behind my eyes I watch the sky

drop the stars through a shape

 

A box I used at four

decide my lips & drop a sound

I heard once

when the day chilled still and raw

 

And now, love, I grasp a word

and drop it with an I love you

Catch it

 

It’s my truth

and it speaks with a vision of you

 

Roberta “Bobby” Santlofer (1943-2020) was a mother of sons, an avid reader, and a poet. A posthumous collection of her poetry is forthcoming. Roberta’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, Grey Sparrow Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Vita Brevis and elsewhere.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Jasmine

What makes the night a prison?

Rolling its tongue up the sleeve.

A city like an urchin, unsettled --

Reserves a birth in the ovary of Jasmine

Mewling and sucking its saggy breasts.

 

Petals flower the newborn’s head,

Your eyes of names crawl on a subtle summer’s afternoon --

In the memory of a frothy green sea -- is a man,

missing from the spine of Eros

His anatomy is the diagram of your child,

Into a parched womb of an open mouth

A restless wind on his hair sweeps the generation of famine.

 

Loneliness of earth grows in white,

Grief. Virtue. Worship --

and now a litany of flower,

Fragrance is a time bomb ticking in the teacup,

Between wild months on calendar

The Jasmine’s head --

Fallen naked over your thumb

Eats the raw abstinence of skin,

The perennial of time crashes over and over again.

 

Autonomy of your body is a harbour

Ships and men slit like rocks

And the binary of eclipse on the wall,

Stand in guard as the president’s men.

 

Sleep articulates the language of a hoar in darkness --

Preparing a recipe on the kitchen stove

The bedouins come selling yawns,

Stacking pillows of guilt in the heart

Branching silence and dead Jasmine.

 

Ronald Tuhin D’Rozario studied at the St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. His articles, book reviews, essays, poems and short stories have been published in many national and international online journals and in print, including -- Cafe Dissensus Everyday, Narrow Road Literary Journal, Kitaab, The Pangolin Review, The Alipore Post, Alien Buddha Press and ’Zine, Grey Sparrow Press, The Chakkar, Plato’s Caves online, RIC Journal, Rasa Literary Review, The Walled City Journal and many more. Recently his poem has been included in -- ’Witness’ an anthology on poetry of dissent, edited by Nabina Das and to be published by, Red River. He writes from Calcutta, India.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Memories

 

The old belief is now shackled down

In the reservoir of memories to drown.

Beyond the reach, sowing the truth

Tied to the embittered past of youth.

Experienced love songs and lullabies in prime—

Unlockable, to be free from time.

Holding as sacred hostage in illusion,

A last hope to revive the cherished vision.

The artifice left behind with no better reason

In the twilight hour wishing for treason.

Suffering with loneliness in rue

Seeking to depart not to continue.

In despairing numerous ways

Mourning unbearably to erase;

The shredded shadows of enduring jest in pleasure,

It was once used to be the amateur’s beloved treasure.

Rusa Bhowmik is a researcher by profession and resides in India. Her first anthology Rookie’s Poetry consists of poems written during her teenage years.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

S

 

Near

 

There was a dream I had

Many years ago

Feather-light on my memory

Yet there, lingering

More a sense than a situation

A feeling of loss and longing

Sharply spices, ginger and anise

On a fitful tongue

A distant hope - close

Your eyes and it slips away

Just as you mean to capture it

 

Somewhere between remembering and fabricating

This is where we live now

 

Samir Knego is a writer and artist with work in Living Artists Magazine, Pollen, dubble, and elsewhere. He’s on the editorial team at Decolonial Passage and lives in North Carolina, USA with a bright green wheelchair and a little black dog.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Ruined relationships

 

Child marriage is considered oppressive

it is driven out from the society

though in many pockets it still prevails.

In some household there were stories

how brides used to be brought up earlier

by in-laws as their own children.

A firm bond used to be grown between

the daughter-in-law and her husband’s parents.

 

Girls are now educated and choose careers

suitable to them when marriage is delayed

till they touch thirties before getting established.

They lose ideal pregnancy time

develop gynecological problems

sometimes remain childless whole life or adopt orphans.

 

Nearly half of their lives are spent with parents

as a result they never become close to their in-laws.

Daughter-father relation remains as close as before

when fathers are heroes to them and others are nothing.

 

There are sporadic incidents of fathers raping daughters

though most of the time mothers are against it

sometimes they help husbands to rape daughters.

There may be also consensual sex between them

but such thing never comes out of the four walls.

Seeing today’s unprecedented love of daughters for fathers

even more than what they offer to their own husbands

whom they treat as their full time servants without any salary

it is not wild thinking at all that

daughters may develop carnal connection towards fathers.

 

Sandip Saha from India won Poetry Matters Project Lit Prize-2018 and finalist in ’Origami Poems Project ‘Best of Kindness Contest’, 2020, both USA. He has published one collection of poems, "Quest for freedom" available in amazon.com, one poetry chapbook, "Toast for women", Oxford, UK, 2021 and is published 84 poems in 31 journals including In Parenthesis, Down in the dart, Juked, Origami, North Dakota Quarterly, Peregrine, Door is a Jar, Better Than Starbucks Poetry, Pif, The Cape Rock: Poetry, Las Positas Anthology-Havik, PCC Inscape Magazine, Shot Glass Journal, in countries India,

USA, UK, Romania and Mauritius.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Lockdown

 

We are being humans because

We are human beings.

 

For years now, I have been limiting contact with people and things...

Almost a recluse, turning into an anachronistic stylite.

 

Yet, an unknown serenity would nourish my heart, knowing that,

even amidst its mess and madness,

the world was kicking and laughing.

 

From my secluded room, endless times, I would enjoy:

Mothers shouting at kids;

Kids loitering around, after school hours, yelling;

At times, a wedding band and at times religious gatherings;

The firecrackers and celebrations;

Evenings with the men gathered at the toddy shop to gossip;

Neighbours complaining about prices of tomatoes or policy decisions;

The incessant talks and movements on the street;

The multitude of photos and posts flooding on social media.

 

At times, I would frown in disbelief but mostly I would smile

and thank god for keeping the world going;

For, even lost, people were still happy and safe.

 

Today, from my balcony, I could hear distant chats and not even a cat around.

Social medias scaring people… no gatherings; no posts of birthdays or festivities;

Not even biding goodbyes to departed souls...

Even funerals are seen… only heard about...

 

It makes me sigh inwardly...

Cringing with the pain for those out there.

 

The only solace:

The fresh air with a clear sky… no vehicles;

The birds’ presence;

No news of wars or racism...

 

Instead,

A heart-melting zeal to bind and love is ever strong.

 

Now, the only solace is knowing that something huge is brewing out there...

Something to rekindle the humanity within us...

So that, we can proudly say...

We are being humans because

We are human beings.

 

Shoma Bundhun loves to write.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Your Black Widow Spider

 

You never see her—the black widow spider stealing into your home—

slinking—rappelling in like an icy assassin.

It’s not that she is sneaky or evil by nature.

She simply is what she is: tiny and sleek as a papaya seed,

yet venomous.

 

She is the poisonous mood who seizes your heart.

Suddenly, raw memories tangle you in a tight film loop.

She might kill you or egg you on to kill others.

She is also your muse to be a hero to right a wrong,

or write a poem.

 

She’s as flexible as you are

as you tip-toe through the spiral of yourself.

With patience, she could grow into a papaya tree

with roots to the center of the earth and leaves brushing the sun.

The fruit hints of melon and forgiveness.

 

Sharon Suzuki-Martinez’s first book, The Way of All Flux (New Rivers Press, 2012) won the New Rivers Press MVP Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, A Glimpse of Birds over O’odham Land, was published in April 2021 by Rinky Dink Press. She was a finalist for the 2018 Best of the Net, nominated for a Pushcart, and is a member of Kundiman. Originally from Hawaii, she now lives in Tempe, Arizona.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Walking on grass

 

In the green field, common,

walking on nodding grass,

common to all the inmates

of village, for grass and field

don’t have a voice to protest.

 

She jumps with a tapping rhythm,

looking up at the vast blue,

nurturing so many, so much,

unbounded, going down in her opulent

dictionary of poetic soul never forsaking.

 

As long as verdant, watered by sky

and pumps and mega tubes, the grass

stands blooming erect, dancing

with a soul singing a song of melody

the same sometimes lacking amidst

 

humans born into this penfold

of egoistic selfish pervasive,

still somewhere the soft puffs

of aura dashing down the field

could be a Divine Spark scintillating;

 

some Sage or Soothsayer

with the Advent presages

like green grass upfronting,

life be grown into a vast

Penfold of superior growth.

 

S. Radhamani was born in Madras in the year 1949 and worked as a professor of English with over thirty years of teaching experience in a post-graduate and research institution. She has published four books of poems and one book of short stories.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Death of Solitude

 

That long sweet silence

is a mere stilled image of time

 

now in the hollowed eyes

of the black and white photographs

 

hanged on the white washed

walls, only an unseen echo voyaging

 

through the seasons, receding

with the lonely noontides in the habitual

 

embraces of a stranger’s

coldness that burns in the dreams elsewhere.

 

In the brimming eyes of a

discarded calendar a smile waves me

 

from its empty pages

withdrawing into the unknown.

Sreekanth Kopuri is an Indian English poet from Machilipatnam – a colony – India. He was an alumni Writer in Residence, at Strange Days Books Greece. He recited his poetry and presented his research papers in many countries. His poems and research articles were widely published in journals like Heartland Review, Nebraska Writers Guild, Poetry Centre San Jose, Underground Writers Association, Word Fountain, A New Ulster, to mention a few. His book Poems of the Void was the finalist for the EYELANDS BOOKS AWARD. Kopuri is presently an independent research scholar in Contemporary Poetry, silence, and Holocaust poetry. He lives in his hometown Machilipatnam with his mother teaching and writing.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Lines of Communication

[Mother :: Daughter]

 

One time, she said it. The thing that was always. Always, as in before she had me, as in before she conceived of having me, as in before she conceived of having herself. One time. Years past revelational. “I know,” I said. “I know you know,” She said. As in, she was its victim, too [it being all the things she said]. It took years [after] for me to say, “I can’t do this anymore.” “I know,” She said then, too. Resigned. As in, she had been waiting for me to say it. Relieved. As in, she was waiting for my silence. Calm, even. As in, she had been waiting [hoping] to be victim to something [someone]. Released. As in, happy with what I was doing. I was doing what I had always done. Not wanting to carry it [her rage]. Carrying it [her life], even so.

 

Sue Scavo’s work has appeared in journals [such as Poet Lore, Blue Heron Review, Aster(ix)] and anthologies [such as What Have You Lost (ed by Naomi Shihab Nye) and Jane’s Stories]. She lives in the northeast U.S.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Shadow Time

 

Little girl stands by the garden gate

on a bright, sunny day,

worn rag doll held close.

A playmate appears, her shadow.

 

Sunlight intensifies its dusky appearance.

They play together in the yard,

mimic each other’s every move,

spark imaginations.

 

Young girl giggles with vivid curiosity.

They play hide and seek.

Loyal companions, they follow each other,

like flowers track the sun.

 

Teenage girl, busy with life,

drives down the street,

not stopping long enough for

her shadowy playmate to tag along.

 

Their time together diminishes,

hindered by adult obligations.

Shadow serves as the guardian.

of her deepest secrets and fears.

 

Young woman walks quietly

through the garden gate.

Shadow fades with the setting sun.

Young man awaits her arrival.

(by Suzanne Cottrell & Phyllis Castelli)

Phyllis Castelli and Suzanne Cottrell developed a special friendship through their local writers’ group and Pilates. Phyllis returned to her North Carolina home town after a career in music. She delights in time spent with her lifetime favorite activities of writing, music, photography, a pollinator garden, and two black Labrador Retrievers. Suzanne lives with her husband and two rescued dogs in rural Piedmont North Carolina. She enjoys reading, writing, knitting, Pilates, and Tai Chi. They are members of the NC Poetry Society and the NC Writers’ Network. Both have had their poetry published in a variety of journals and anthologies including the Avocet, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Poetry Leaves. Phyllis’s poetry book is titled gentle, i think and Suzanne has two poetry chapbooks: Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter and Gifts of the Seasons, Spring and Summer (Kelsay Books).

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

T

 

Red Fireflies

 

Red fireflies-

Dance with soot and ashes.

And the air carries them-

Does this dance with time.

Brief fiery fire of a tryst.

 

Warm wind consumes.

Fire and Fireflies-

Into the dark air above.

Swift, sharp, heap of red.

Dancing,

Twirling,

Wonderful,

Aimless,

Yet...

Significant of light.

Of something from ashes and embers.

The spirit rises.

For the last chance.

 

Tania Alphonsa George is a Bachelor in English Literature who loves to write poems.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

212

 

This is period of silence, solitude & satisfaction

over nothing. And whoever says the truth will die.

—Sufyan Ath-thawry

 

And not all death ushers you to the grave,

some takes your soul and leaves you wandering;

wondering what inherence is in existence

that assembles you at the shoreline of Styx –

a Muslim will call it Barzakh,

that places a trumpet in your mouth

and darns a hole in your tongue,

that renders you an albatross with clipped wings,

that invites the thief in you and alerts the farmer,

that scratches your itches with prickly thorns,

& patches your worn skin with roots of Ìnabìrì.

If these are not death de facto then what is?

What is going out and leaving a secret Will in mother’s bag

because the theft of a cow on the highway

summons more policemen than abducted citizens?

What is death if not flinging my Maiduguri cap in the bush

to avoid being mopped at Ìgàngán?

What is obituary if not a litre of fuel rising from ₦87 to ₦212?

 

Taofeek Ayeyemi fondly called Aswagaawy is a Nigerian lawyer, writer and author of the chapbook Tongueless Secrets (Ethel Press, 2021) and a collection "aubade at night or serenade in the morning" (Flowersong Press, TBD 2021). His works are in Lucent Dreaming, Ethel-zine, artmosterrific, Banyan Review, tinywords, the QuillS and elsewhere. He is Taofeek Ayeyemi on Facebook and Twitter.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Smell of It

 

Sand & mica & fetid foliage smell awakened, lingering,

long after spring rain ends, as it must have after first earthfall,

lifting off crisp-cold Morningstar tree trunk, leaf & bud ballast,

clear down to Majestic Ridge iglesia, then backed up to the last

untapped patch of Sonoma Ranch East Mesa scrub, end-to-end

Miracle Miles of fast food, condo complex, streets, Pegasus, Raven,

Wildcat Canyon, White Sage, La Purísima, far into to the Organs’

big birds’ gallies, aeries north of ether, immanence none fathoms,

follows, not even reclusive souls, scent beyond human ken yet felt

even unto the faint receipt of inspired keepsake rain for long haul,

slow-burn-desert-summer.

 

Tim Gordon has published Dream Wind in 2020 (Spirit-of-the-Ram P). His work appears in AGNI, American Literary R, Cincinnati PR, Kansas Q, Louisville R, Mississippi R, New York Q, Phoebe, Rhino, Sonora R, Texas Observer, among others. Everything Speaking Chinese received Riverstone P (AZ) Poetry Prize. Recognitions include Nea & Neh Fellowships, residencies, and several Pushcart nominations. I divide professional & personal lives between Asia & the Desert Southwest. Empty Heaven, Empty Earth is currently under publication review.

 

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W

 

Internet Love Song

 

internet love song I was born to you

confused as a baby all the sound and

the ceaseless ordering of the disordered

 

until I myself was well ordered as perhaps

the noble bee in the beehive turning circles

but checked out gone checked out

like a blue whale committed full to krill

 

flowerpots growing weeds now you love

the sun and water you love the brick

places water fountains and good sidewalks

in the biergarten they served hefeweizen

 

so thick it poured like honey attracting

all the bees circled round our garden table

hot day reminded me of some biblical plague

cliche of that sort but under the circumstances

 

can we go together to the beach

never have to wonder about

one another just be in love

 

Wallace Barker lives in Austin, Texas. He has been published in Neutral Spaces Magazine, Reality Hands, Misery Tourism and Expat Press. More of his work can be found at wallacebarker.com.

 

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Professor - Sabali
00:00 / 05:18

 

Good Cop

 

The cop told me

I would have to stay

in jail

over the weekend

if I could not pay the

ten dollar bail.

I called my brother

who lived on the other side of the

state, but

he was not at home,

or else not picking up his telephone—

it looked like I was stuck

on the metal slab

behind steel bars, but

a different cop, an older guy, could

have been my Uncle, volunteered

out of nowhere

to lend me the money, and

him—though I was not then

paying bills of any kind—

him I paid back.

 

Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has been widely published online and in print (including in The Pangolin Review). He is author of 8 full-length published poetry collections--most recently BLACK SUMMER, New & Selected Poems, published by Spartan Press, 2021. He is also author of a short story collection, recently published by Adelaide Press (TURMOIL & Other Stories). He lives in Vermont, USA.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Y

Christmas Prophecy

“I dreamt you looking very pregnant on Christmas;

you will be pregnant with triplets,” my boss and mentor teases.

I smile, and promise she would be their godmother.

 

Four years and no pregnancy later,

I start a new job in my hometown.

My father-in-law develops memory lapses;

During lunchtime, I feed him and change his diaper, becoming his mother.

 

Next summer my mentor has had two surgeries

and develops infected wounds on her legs from the rehab.

We talk on the phone and promise to get together.

My husband and I finally do IVF.

Our first embryo dies shortly after the fresh transfer.

 

That Christmas, I ask my doctor to implant our second embryo.

I name the embryo “our Snowflake”.

I pray a lot, and write poems about the IVF process; a few of them get published.

Our second embryo, Snowflake, dies. I also learn of the death of his/her godmother.

 

At the last embryo transfer, I tell all my friends to pray,

and tell God He better have a backup plan,

because I am done.

Our third embryo is Caleb, and he is a happy infant.

Everyone adores him, and I grow as his mother.

Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya is a bilingual poet, educator and caregiver. Yevgeniya has taught at Laguardia Community College, CUNY as an adjunct instructor and was an administrative assistant at Leonia United Methodist church. Currently she is a homeschooling mom of an energetic toddler. Yevgeniya’s poems have been published or forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Ancient Paths, First Literary Review-East, Time of Singing, Page and Spine, The Pangolin Review, and many other publications, and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize two times. Check out her blog at ypoetry.weebly.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Blooming Blue

 

On the starless summer night,

blue is blooming

like fireworks spread

 

It is a symbol of vehemence

covered with sorrow

 

Before I sleep,

I always look up at the blue

so that my skin soaks into the blue

 

On the starless summer night,

blue is blooming

like mist spreads

 

It is a symbol of eternity

covered with profuse fragments of moment

 

Yuu Ikeda is a Japanese poet published in Rigorous, Briefly Zine and Kalonopia.